“The last fruit of summer becomes a lantern to guide us.”
— original quote by Eddie Gordon, on a sign at Gordon Skagit Farms

The old barn with Eddie Gordon’s pumpkin paintings, Gordon Skagit Farms

Pumpkins (decorative and edible) for sale

October is a perfect time for a drive in the country.  The charms of the harvest season are evident in the Skagit Valley, just one hour north of Seattle.  The snow geese are returning to their winter feeding grounds near Conway.  Farmers have gathered the bounty from their fields and are preparing for winter.  Apple trees are yielding their fruit.  And this is the month for visits to the pumpkin patch.

I met some friends to see the pumpkins at Gordon Skagit Farms near Mount Vernon.  The two Gordon brothers offer a wide array of specialty gourds and pumpkins, all grown locally on their farm.  During the month of October, this agricultural bounty — decorative and/or edible —  is showcased in strikingly designed displays, and there is a U-pick apple orchard and a U-pick pumpkin patch if you want to get your hands dirty.  The whole presentation is inviting and welcoming, but a definite step up from a gimmicky Halloween destination.  (The Gordons have created a haunted barn, with little staged vignettes, but I won’t spoil your surprise now.  I’ll do another post about the haunted barn on Halloween.)

My favorite aspect of my visit was definitely the art.  Eddie Gordon displays his large paintings outside amidst the farm implements and pumpkins.  It’s like a gallery show en plein air.  I don’t want to overwhelm you, so tomorrow’s post will focus on the art.

Today’s post celebrates the harvest — the pumpkins and the gourds.  Enjoy!

Pumpkins for sale — Gordon Skagit Farms

I loved these turban gourds.

Mini-pumpkins in orange and white. If you have an old wooden pop bottle case, display these little pumpkins instead of pop bottles.

Pumpkin on an old yellow Ford tractor.

A school group in the U-pick pumpkin patch

Decorative Indian corn and straw flowers

Apple baskets

An unusually beautiful gourd — love the color and texture and shape!

Mixed gourds — such variety!

Green striped gourds by the barn — Gordon Skagit Farms

Sneak preview of one scene in the haunted barn. Stay tuned for a post about the barn on Halloween.












“I think fiction may be, whatever else, an exercise in the capacity for imaginative love, or sympathy, or identification.”
— Marilynn Robinson, When I Was a Child I Read Books

Pile of fiction books with basket and moon snail shells

“. . . I belong to the community of the written word in several ways.  First, books have taught me most of what I know, and they have trained my attention and my imagination.  Second, they gave me a sense of the possible, which is the great service — and too often, when it ungenerous, the great disservice — a community performs for its members.  Third, they embodied richness and refinement of language, and the artful use of language in the service of the imagination.  Fourth, they gave me and still give me courage.”
— Marilynn Robinson, When I Was a Child I Read Books

I recently read a charming picture book that celebrates the love of books, the printed word, reading, writing, and libraries.  The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore by William Joyce became the basis for an Academy-Award winning short film.  Both are real treats for book lovers.

Do read the book, but if you can’t do that, then take 15 minutes to watch this short, silent film at this link.

” . . . for a man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.”
— Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Focusing on the simple life

Aah, the simple life!  It’s not so easy, is it, with all the competing demands for one’s time and attention.  A seemingly disproportionate amount of time is taken by the responsibilities of work and maintaining a household.  That leaves a relatively small amount of personal time for pursuing passions and interests.

Thoreau chose a different way — he did not own a home, so he did not have to work long hours to pay a mortgage, utilities, or maintenance.  He was austere in his other needs, such as food and clothing, so he could work as a day laborer for just a few days of the year to cover his living expenses.  That gave him a disproportionate amount of time for his personal musings, rambles, experiments in living, and writing.

I, in comparison, seem to have a long list of wants and interests, all competing for my attention during my finite hours away from work.  I watch very little television, so I am immune to commercials.  I rarely go shopping, so am not tempted by the latest fashions and gadgets.  But over the years, I’ve spent many hours on assorted activities, such as camping, biking, quilting, embroidering, and traveling.  Through reading I have discovered many more places I’d like to travel to, recipes I’d like to try, art I’d like to see, etc.

Would my life be richer if I left these things alone?

I don’t believe so.  I could probably live without many of the things I own, but feel enriched by my experiences

I feel it is important to use my remaining time on this earth wisely.  I realize that it might be time to let go of some of my former interests and focus on fewer, still meaningful activities.  It’s been twenty years since I’ve last made any baskets, for example, but my closet still holds reeds for constructing the ribs of baskets.  Why am I holding on to these supplies, when it’s clear that I won’t be making any more baskets in the foreseeable future?

My basket-making supplies, in the closet for over 20 years!

My handmade baskets

My handmade baskets

How much stuff am I holding on to just in case I might use it in the distant future?  I have even more boxes and boxes of fabric scraps for quiltmaking.  But it’s been well over a year since I’ve last pieced a quilt, and maybe it’s time to move on from that former interest as well.  How much can I afford to let alone?  And what riches will I discover when I do?

Tacoma Art Museum

Current exhibit at the Tacoma Art Museum: Dale Chihuly's Northwest

Northwest influences: Chihuly's collection of Native American portraits by Edward S. Curtis

Tacoma is proud to claim glass artist Dale Chihuly as one of its own, and the Tacoma Art Museum is currently featuring a new exhibit that celebrates Chihuly’s Northwest influences.  The museum has relocated Chihuly’s vast collection of Native wool trade blankets and photogravure portraits by Edward S. Curtis from Chihuly’s Boathouse in Seattle, and they form an impressive backdrop to Chihuly’s iconic glass art.  Native American baskets from the collections of the Washington State History Museum stand side by side with Chihuly’s glass forms, which were inspired by the historic containers.

Here are some photos from the exhibit:

Chihuly glass baskets

Glass basket and shadow

Deatil of another glass basket with shadow

Nested glass baskets by Dale Chihuly

Detail, Chihuly basket

Chihuly cylinder with glass-thread drawings inspired by Native blankets

Another glass cylinder with Native basket

Glass art and Native baskets

Reflections and echoes

Chihuly baskets with his collection of Native wool blankets

Holland America Bulb Farm in Woodland, WA

Barbed-wire fence and tulip fields

One of the volunteers at the Hulda Klager Lilac Gardens in Woodland advised us to drive about two more miles down the road to see the tulip fields in bloom.  I hadn’t realized that there were tulip farms in southern Washington.  This one was owned by the  Holland America Bulb Farm.  In contrast with the many tulip fields in the Skagit Valley north of Seattle, this operation was much smaller.  Instead of big fields planted in one color, the Holland America Bulb Farm planted just a few rows of each color, side by side, so the fields were a riot of bright colors. 

Mailboxes mimic the colors in the tulip fields

Patch of pink tulips

I particularly enjoyed watching workers cut fresh tulips in the field and gather them in baskets for sale.  What a beautiful setting for their labors!

Worker carrying her basket of cut tulips

Another basket of fresh-cut tulips

Fresh-cut tulips for sale

Eggs, Eggs, Eggs

April 4, 2010

Eggs from Anne's chickens in a handmade basket


Fran's Chocolate Easter eggs


Dyeing Easter eggs

Colored eggs for Easter brunch

Easter eggs